Mountain Sheep Hunting
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Inhabiting some of the most remote, challenging and unarguably the most beautiful areas of the western North American, bighorn sheep are truly impressive of all the large mammals. Bighorn sheep have an important place in the North American tribal mythology.
Three species of mountain sheep are found in
They are adapted to inhabit some of the most hostile climatic conditions from snowy alpine regions to hot and dry canyons preferring the most remote, rocky, and rugged landscape to avoid predators such as cougars, coyotes, and eagles.
Hooves with sharp outer edges and soft rubbery soles make them superb climbers. Bighorn forage on grass and shrubs depending on availability.
Males (ram) have large spirally curved horns though both the males and females (ewes) have horns, the massive size of the male horn gives them the name bighorn sheep. Horns grow throughout the year except during the mating season also called as the ‘rut’. During the mating season a ring is formed on the horns, this is used to determine their age. Skull and horns may weigh almost 40 pounds in a full grown male. Various color shades like light brown to chocolate gray can be found, with the only common feature being the white rump and lining on the back of the legs.
Although they live in herds they do not follow a strict hierarchy except during the mating season when the rams try to assert their supremacy to gain mating rights over ewes. Charging and colliding heads and horns is the most spectacular sight and can be heard from several miles. Ewes give birth to lambs in the most inaccessible and rugged terrain, with enough food and cover from predators.
Hunting season is generally between second week of September and end of November. It is divided into two parts - general and archery. In the archery season, hunting is permitted only with bow and arrows while in the general season both firearm and bowhunting is permitted.
A heavy horned mature ram is the most coveted trophy by sheep hunters. Alberta is home to some of the biggest rams ever hunted, and highly respected and reputed sheep outfitting industry. Traditionally sheep hunting is done using packhorses and tent camps. ‘Archery only’ zones can be accessed on foot with backpack.
Late season hunts offer fantastic opportunity to harvest the best trophy rams, however the conditions are really grueling with steep slopes, rugged cliffs, high velocity wind and sub-zero temperature. Only the most seasoned hunters can endure such extreme conditions.
Hunting gear should include all the necessary equipment but should be light. A bow with a draw weight of 60 pounds and arrow weights of 400+ grains will easily give you more than enough kinetic energy recommended to hunt sheep. grizzlies and brown bear also inhabit this terrain so bear spray or a high caliber rifle is a must, finest quality of scopes and binoculars are recommended as a lot of time will be spent in glassing for the perfect trophy, pocket range finder, gun case, cooking stove, skinning knife, good quality insulated boots that offer traction on the steep slopes and gorges, multiple pairs of warm socks, camping boots, woolen shirts and pants, jackets, rain suit, fire starting equipment, radio set, sleeping bag, first aid kit, water bottle, insect repellant, and bags to carry the trophy and hide are essentials.
Do not forget to keep the pack light as this hunt is going to be very tough on the legs and a lot of time will be spent climbing some of the rockiest gorges. As the mature rams prefer to stay up in the highest peaks, it is difficult to predict where the rams are. It is best to start training six weeks before your trip to get into sheep shape. When you get back from your wild sheep hunting adventure be sure to make some tasty wild sheep recipes.
Sheep hunting is addictive and most hunters return to enjoy the wilderness, the mountains and the solitude.
Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott